Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saturday Roundup/Caps 5, Thrash 3

[AP Recap - Game Summary - Super Stats]

Yesterday I wrote that "the Caps head to Atlanta desperate - which is when Bruce Boudreau's Caps have often been at their best."

Entering the third period of last night's game - trailing by a pair and having gone 0-45-5 in their previous 50 games when trailing after two - the Caps were at their most desperate. And, led by their Hart and Calder candidates, they were at their very best.

Washington outshot Atlanta by a whopping 23-2 margin, and beat the nearly impregnable Kari Lehtonen three times, a trio of tallies that including Alex Ovechkin's 60th goal on the season and Nicklas Backstrom's first - and second - third period goals of the campaign, 32 seconds apart. If you're more of a visual learner, here's the third period shot chart, with the Caps' shots on goal on the left (x's are saves, o's are goals) and Atlanta's on the right:

Some quick thoughts on the game:
  • This was probably Cristobal Huet's worst game so far as a Cap, and if this is as bad as it gets, I'm on board.
  • Steve Eminger had a very strong game and is a far better option than Sami Lepisto at the moment.
  • Ovechkin's line - goal, two assists, plus-four, six shots on goal... in the third period. He had a goal on three shots and an even rating through two.
  • Mike Green really got his legs back in the third period and finished the game with a pair of primary assists, seven shots on goal and a plus-three rating.
  • The secondary scoring (especially at even strength) has all but disappeared again. Alex Semin and Viktor Kozlov each have two goals in March. Sergei Fedorov has one. Eric Fehr has none. Tomas Fleischmann has none since February 16. No blueliners have scored this month.
  • Ovechkin hadn't gotten that much ice time (25:54) in a sixty minute game since a February 8th loss to Carolina in which he played an unbelieveable 27:56. Backstrom hadn't played that much (22:32) since he played 23:30 in that same game.
  • Next goal milestone for Ovie? 61 - Most goals scored by a Capital in a single season (breaking Dennis Maruk's mark set in 1981-82); Most goals scored by a Russian-born player in a season since 1992-93 (breaking Pavel Bure's mark set in 1993-94).
A brutal stretch of four huge games - three of which came on the road - in six days is over, with the Caps winning three. The team is now off until Tuesday's showdown with the 'Canes in Raleigh, and then it's off to the Sunshine State for a pair before closing the season out with a trio of home games against those same three Southeast Division rivals.

One last push. Let's hope there's enough gas left in the tank.

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Happy 31st Birthday Tom Poti.... Good article on Joe Finley and his diminutive D partner.... Finally, one year ago today, we had a discussion related to fighting in the game and recapped a Caps loss and two years ago today we trashed the loser point and offered a solution.

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Alex Ovechkin (2G, 2A, +4, 9 SOG)
  • Ross: Alex Ovechkin (4 points)
  • Norris: Christian Backman (3A, +2)
  • Vezina: Vesa Toskala (W, 35 saves on 36 shots against)
  • Richard: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Daniel Briere, A.C. Slater (2G each)
  • Calder: Nicklas Backstrom (2G, including the game-winner, A, +3, 3 SOG, 75% faceoffs won)
  • Aiken: Ryan Miller (L, 4 goals allowed on 24 shots against)


lets go caps! said...

People have yet to mention this.

Ovechkin was on the ice for all 5 goals, getting points on 4 of them.

But he could have had about another 3 goals in that 3rd period.

Lights out in the 3rd.

Wow. I'm speechless.

hotdog88gt said...

Top notch 3rd. AO made up for his bad passing tonight. And can Alex Semin get any softer? What a cream puff. Seemed like he vanished in the third.

Never missed The Donald. Eric Fehr has not impressed. Where would we be with a healthy 17 and 92?

I was about to turn it over to the Sabres game for good when Mike Green finally passed the puck before he ran out of options. The kid is killing me.

There's only so much the Caps can do when one player carries the puck into the offensive zone and doesn't make another pass before turning it over.

dmg said...

I don't think Semin is soft - he's not terribly big and he stickhandles a lot so he takes big hits but I don't feel like he disappears when he takes them - either they don't faze him or he goes off for two minutes for roughing (or slashing or something...). I've always though Semin was pretty tough for his willingness to take those kinds of hits on a regular basis to try and make plays.

As for Brashear...I think the Thrashers would have been less willing to get physical on the Caps (especially on late hits and after the whistle) has Brash been in the lineup.

TJ said...

Caps 4, Thrash 3? Looks like someone else forgot to set the tivo to record extra time for the game - my recording stopped with about 35 seconds left in the game (when it was still 4-3).

CD said...

i was at my Ps dog-sitting this evening, having listened to part of the second and most of the third on the radio in the car. i got to the homestead and even w/ Center Ice, Cox didn't have anything for me to enjoy. i can only hope i did something wrong and most of the locals in the furhter reaches of NoVa did get to see the comeback (the Ps are in Great Falls), but i'd like to make my bitching vocal to the Rink. This is why i hate coming out here. Well, there are other reasons, but still.

Tyler said...

I think everyone's being unfair by singling out Semin as not supplying scoring. He didn't even play last night.

Uh, wait... he did? Oh. Nevermind.

JP said...

I'm going to agree with DMG that Semin isn't soft and that he does tend to take a decent beating and keeps getting up. But his isn't Ovechkin toughness by any stretch - he doesn't seek contact (he only has 15 hits on the season), he's just on the receiving end of it because of his lack of overall hockey sense.

I also agree on Brashear's absence emboldening the Thrash a bit.

Oh, and @ TJ: Oops! Thx.

Anonymous said...

Missing these last couple of critical games (well, really missing the last one) on the COX system sucks.

Has there been any league discussions of the 3-2-1 point system - having some games worth more than others is REALLY not right!


usually frustrated caps fan said...

Japer: Great post, right on! though I thought the Federov Line played well in the game even though they went scoreless. I also feel Semin is a superb player and a tough kid though no yet as used to being abused as Ovie. For your readers - it's called Comcast+ - channel 25 in NoVa - silly kids, the games are on channel 25 when they are pre-empted on channel 10.

I'd like the help of your readers, though. Last night on Comcast after the game, Lisa Hillary, experienced hockey commentator and insightful analyst that she is, made a statement that the Caps had been outplayed the first two periods last night as well. My suggestion is that her recent pop-up on the Caps website be trashed for this SOOOO Obviously wrong statement. Please post a comment to Caps owner Ted Leonsis on his blog Ted's Take if you agree and support the position.

I feel strongly the only reason the Caps didn't score at least two in the first and at least one in the second was Lehtonen's play and if it weren't for him the score would have been 10+-3 for the Caps. Twenty-three shots in a period is also a unique way to play defense eh? Anyone who wasn't drained (in a good way) at the end of this one, after watching doesn't know what good hockey is all about. No loser point last night. LETS GO CAPS!!!!!

D.C One Timer said...

I think Semin is a lot better then he was. It seemed so many times early on he would take a hit and crumble and then disapear. He has gotten A LOT better. I think a lot of that early on was when he had something like Gordon and Flash on his line and he was clearly the one to take-you knock him down and our O play was dead for that shift. Brash's absence DID embolden them to take some harsh hits on us. I didn't think twice about Brash being out but I will now.

Anonymous said...

You guys might want to check out Douche Bag Cox and his article titled "Talented Loser" Ovechkin is his honorable mention for MVP.


Brunella said...

Just finished watching the re-broadcast on TV. And---> WOW. Wow wow wow wow. Now THAT is what they call bearing down. Determination, tenacity, holy cow. Bravo to the boys. Bravo to Nicky!!! Keep trying to stick a fork in them, eh? They don't stay still long enough, that bunch of scamps. (sigh)

Big Al Semin is still learning the "heart" aspect of the game. His preference is the pirouetting dancing cherry picker role, it seems to me. Luckily for Freckles he has the world's greatest blood n' guts role model right in front of him in Ovie.

Moving Fehr to the #2 Line, with Gramps/Big Al line was an interesting change. I like the concept very much. I think that Eric will soon be a much more skilled create-havoc guy than Cooke. Thus allowing the other two time and space to figureskate. A shame in this instance these three didn't contribute much more than just allowing the Backstrom Line to rest.

And was that defensive pairing that was out there the entirely of the 3rd period Greenie and Poti? Another no-holds-barred stroke.

Congrats to everyone for a dazzling show in that 3rd period. I am very proud of them. (Gentlemen, just THINK of the damage we will do next year! OMG, I can't wait!!)

Tyler said...

Huh? The Caps were outplayed the first two periods last night. Duh. Why is that even remotely controversial?

usually frustrated caps fan said...


As I've said and gone through on my own blog - look at the stats. You are acting on emotion like others. The Caps were not outplayed in the first period at all - statistically that's not even at issue with the score at the end of the period. In the second you could argue given the quality of shots and the fact the special teams did break down. But even then were it not for superb play by Lehtonen the score would have been tied 3-3 or the Caps would have led 4-3. Finally through the first 10 minutes of the third period Lehtonen again kept his team in the game - single handedly. Yes Ovechkin and Backstrom deserved their stars but the second and third lines were on as well - 12 of the 23 shots in the third were from lines OTHER than line one. For more reasons check out the posts and analysis on my blog and then maybe you'll reconsider your position.

brunella - IMO it'll be years and even possibly more years before Fehr is in Cooke's class as a "skilled create havoc guy". I know others will strongly disagree but again look at the statistics since Cooke's been a Cap and since Fehr has been called up.

Tyler said...

Some people watch hockey games, some people watch statistics.

usually frustrated caps fan said...

tyler - I watch games and analyze the statistics; I find both useful in seeking to understand what's really going on. Peace

TJ said...

@JP - No worries. You still da man.

Brunella said...

"IMO it'll be years and even possibly more years before Fehr is in Cooke's class as a "skilled create havoc guy".

My friend, you misunderstood me a bit. But I agree with you in that Fehr isn't in and won't be in "Cooke's class". You're right, Fehr's in a different "class".

He's more skilled.

But wait! Not that I don't appreciate Matt Cooke! Don't get me wrong. Every winning team has to have an small army of Matt Cookes. I ask you: Would there have been a 1998 without Esa Tikkanen? I believe not.

Oh heck, Matt Cooke is essential. Eric Fehr is on a different trajectory with a different packet of skills. My hope is that he doesn't do a Brian Sutherby on us. (Currently with 40 games for the Ducks and one assist to show for it.) [shudder]

Ogre said...

Frankly, not having seen the game, but having listened on radio, it doesn't matter if you have outplayed the competition if you're down 3-1 after two. If their goalie is hot, or if you just keep hitting the goalie with shots. Stats? Psh.

If you're down 3-1, you've been out-somethinged.